1. Characteristics of Marriage:
The general characteristics of marriage are as follows:
A• Universality: Marriage is more or less a universal institution. It is found
among the pre-literate as well as literate people. It is enforced as a social rule in some of the societies. Among the Hindus, marriage is a sacrament which is regarded as more or less obligatory. According to the Chinese philosopher Confucius, an individual who remains unmarried throughout his life commits a great crime.
B• Relationship between man and woman: Marriage is a union of man and woman. It indicates relationship between one or more men to one or more women. Who should marry whom? One should marry how many?— are the questions which represent social rules regarding marriage which
C• Marriage bond is enduring: Marriage indicates a long lasting bond between the husband and wife. Hence, it is not coextensive with sex life. Marital relationship between man and woman lasts even after the sexual satisfaction is obtained. The Hindus, for example, believe that marriage is a sacred bond between the husband and wife which even the death cannot break.
D• Marriage requires social approval: A union of man and woman becomes
a marital bond only when the society gives its approval. When a marriage is
given the hallmark of social approval, it becomes a legal contract.
E• Marriage is associated with some civil or religious ceremony:
Marriage gets its social recognition through some ceremony which may have its own rites, rituals, customs, formalities, etc. It means marriage has to be concluded in a public and solemn manner. Sometimes it receives as a sacrament the blessings of religion. Marriage among the Hindus, is connected with rituals such as—Homa, Saptapadi, Panigrahana, Mangalya-Dharana etc.
F• Marriage creates mutual obligations: Marriage imposes certain rights and duties on both the husband and wife—both are required to support each other and their children.
2. Significance of Marriage:
The importance of marriage reflects in the following functions that it performs:
A• Regulation of sex life: In conservative societies, it is considered that marriage an important method to regulate the sex life of man. Sexual impulse, in considered to be, very powerful in man. He is exposed to its influence throughout his life. This impulse must be controlled and regulated in a proper manner to avoid chaos and confusion in society. Marriage has come to be such a regulative means. In fact, it is often called the ‘licence for sex life’.
B• Regulation of sex relations: Marriage prohibits sexual relations between father and daughter, mother and son, brother and sister, etc. Such a kind of prohibition is called ‘incest taboo’. Marriage also puts restrictions on the pre-marital and extra-marital sexual relations.
C• Marriage leads to the establishment of family: Sexual satisfaction offered by marriage results in self-perpetuation i.e.marriage insists on the
couple to establish a family of procreation.It is marriage which determines the lineage of the newborn individual. Inheritance and succession follow the rule of descent.
D• Provides for economic cooperation: Marriage makes division of labour
possible on the basis of sex. Partners of marriage distribute work among
themselves and perform them. In the modern industrial societies, we find
husband and wife working outside the family to get more income to elevate their economic status.
E• Marriage contributes to emotional and intellectual inter-stimulation:
Marriage brings life-partners together and helps them to develop intense
love and affection towards each other. It deepens the emotions and
strengthens the companionship between the two.
F• Marriage aims at social solidarity: Marriage is not only a union of two
individuals of the opposite sex, but also their respective families, groups
and kindreds. Friendship between groups is reinforced through marriage. It has been said that by encouraging marriage between different groups, castes, races, classes, religious, linguistic and other communities, it is possible to
minimize the social distance between groups and strengthen their solidarity